Tunnelvision, a parking lot fantasy.
Tunnelvision, a parking lot fantasy.


Field review by the editors.

Columbia, South Carolina

Until 1974, Blue Sky was an artist named Warren Johnson who painted on canvas and lived in Columbia, South Carolina. Then he decided that he'd been a Native American in a previous life, and changed his name to Blue Sky. And then the idea for "Tunnelvision" came to him in a dream: an outdoor wall-size mural of the setting -- or possibly rising -- sun, visible through a highway tunnel blasted out of solid rock.

Blue Sky pestered the city (and the bank whose exterior wall he wanted to paint) multiple times before they finally agreed to the project -- under the condition that he'd paint it over if they didn't like it.

by Blue Sky, 1975.

Blue Sky went to work in February 1975 and completed the trompe-l'oeil mural in October of that year. He told People magazine at the time that, "I wanted to do in art what Beethoven had done in music... go right through to the next dimension." With Tunnelvision's photorealism and forced perspective, it does look invitingly three-dimensional. Blue Sky's thoughtful choice of wall, facing a parking lot instead of a main thoroughfare, has probably saved the lives of countless inattentive drivers.

Neither the city nor the bank ever asked Blue Sky to remove Tunnelvision, and in fact he has restored and repainted the mural a half-dozen times over the years, each time adding or modifying subtle details.


1550 Marion St., Columbia, SC
Taylor and Marion Streets, just a few feet away from the Busted Plug.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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September 24, 2020

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